Technology Helps Question the Nature of Art at “Autolysis” Exhibition


Through his exhibition on “Autolysis,” artist Asim Waqif wanted his messages of abandonment, denial and the acceptance to “let go” to resonate with his audience.

Nominating Company: SapientNitro, New York, New York
Venue: Asim Waqif, Alaknanda, New Delhi, India
Project: “Autolysis”
Category: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation

What if art wasn’t art? What if it wasn’t particularly pristine or beautiful in the conventional sense? It would still be art, right? But a very different kind of art. When you leave behind all those material things and objects you so loved at one point in time, what is left behind? Memories? Yes, but also dereliction, degeneration and decay.

Renowned Delhi-based artist Asim Waqif approached us towards the end of 201 5 for his art exhibition on Autolysis. His brief was a straightforward; he wanted his messages of abandonment, denial and the acceptance to “let go” to resonate with his audience.

This brief put us on a mission as Waqif was challenging the fundamentals of human behavior through art. We dug deep into the realms of storytelling, all the while questioning we could meaningfully represent this art of the un-meaningful?

The representations we came up with lent a very interesting touch to the installations. We were sure they would appeal to our audience in a way that only untouched and unspoiled objects can. What we also had working to our advantage was a site more than apt for the setting, a 200-year-old Sarai that once belonged to Bahadur Shah Zafar II, an untouched space.

“Archival Prints ka Achaar” was a mixture of digital prints blended with leaven and curd to work up the fungus. The jars had LED lights in them, and while they were rotting from within, the glowing jars made for a pleasing sight. People would look at them from a distance and walk in closer, not suspecting that the jars would then spring to life, retaliating, first with a fierce noise and then with more beeping and flashing, the insides going dimmer with every step of the viewer. After a point, this all made it impossible for the viewer to see through the glass. “Baja”, a conical shaped loudspeaker with a wide diaphragm, was another installation we worked on. Operating on a similar principle, it enticed viewers to make a move, asking them to step into an awkward space. Once the viewer gave in and stepped closer, he was driven away by the sheer noise of baja.

Apart from these, there was also the “creepy-crawlyn.” Here, we made use of projection mapping technology to create a virtual interactive space infested with ants and spiders.

“Autolysis” debuted on January 27, 2016. Through a marriage of creativity, art and technology, the exhibition made the audience of more than 2,000 people question and experience the emotions and messages that Waqif wanted to convey, steering clear of traditional art exhibitions where a ring fence is created, ‘Autolysis’ transformed art consumption through the medium of technology.

Asim Waqif, The Artist

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